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Thinking of buying a high-end phone?

It is battle time in the superphone arena right now, with almost every major smartphone brand having put its best foot forward. And of course, this has in turn triggered off the eternal debate about which phone is the best of the lot. 

To simplify matters and help you make up your mind, here is our primer on the crème de la crème of the handset market, arranged in alphabetical order:

Apple iPhone 5
The God phone still

It has been around for a while and has seen many a potential assassin emerge from smartphone ranks, but Apple’s iPhone continues to go strong. That said, the iPhone 5 is perhaps the first handset in the series that has stressed more on design than on the user experience. It is the first iPhone to sport a 4.0-inch display, but what has really caught most people’s eyes are the diamond-polished chamfers, the brilliantly designed metal back, the sapphire crystal covered 8.0-megapixel camera and the insanely slim form factor. Software improvements, however, were few and far between, although it still features one of the most intuitive interfaces and the best app library in terms of quality. This was the Godphone with a stunning new coat of paint. And a price that has remained as godly
as ever.

What rocks: The design, the interface, and the apps
What sucks: The price, the lack of change in basic iOS experience
Perfect for: Those with deep pockets wanting a smartphone that can be used and flaunted in equal measure
Price: Rs 45,500 onwards

BlackBerry Z10
Force 10 from BB

A few years ago, BlackBerry was synonymous with enterprise mobility. Today, it is fighting to get that crown back. And the Z10 is the first salvo in its comeback. It is as unlike a traditional BlackBerry as can be — all touchscreen, with no hardware QWERTY keys, and sporting an all new OS, the BB10. In best BlackBerry tradition, however, it works a perfect treat, especially when handling messaging functions. It possesses one of the most innovative, gesture-driven interfaces (swipe down to close a window) we have seen for a while and its onscreen QWERTY keyboard is almost as good as a real one. Round that off with a much improved camera, support for a number of Android apps and of course, good old BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), and you can see BlackBerry getting back to where it belongs.

What rocks: The gesture-driven interface, multi-tasking, and typing
What sucks: The price, the learning curve (traditional BB users will take some time to get the hang of it)
Perfect for: All those wanting a large screen device with superb social network connectivity, e-mail and a terrific onscreen keyboard. Price: Rs 42, 490

HTC One
Neo as a phone?

Remember how Neo saved the world in the Matrix with those uber stylish moves? Well, HTC hopes that the One will have a similar effect on its own fortunes. And just like Neo (who, incidentally, was also called ‘the One’), the One comes with a very high-style quotient. Yes, it does boast a quad-core processor and an ultrapixel camera that churns out super shots, but what a lot of people will remember it for is the amazing design, a stunning blend of glass and metal that has resulted in arguably the best looking Android phone of all time. Yes, it performs as well and has a number of interesting features, most notably the Blink feed which serves up live updates on the homescreen, but the One will be remembered most for its gorgeous appearance.

What rocks: The design, the speedy operation
What sucks: The slightly older version of Android (4.1), the battery life
Perfect for: The person who believes in keeping their handset out and about (and flaunting it) and who also cannot bear to be disconnected from news for a minute! Price: Rs 42,990

Sony Xperia Z
Defying dust and water

The best of Sony in a phone? Well, that advertising line for the Xperia Z does seem to ring true when you look at its specs — the phone packs in a 5.0-inch HD display, a 13.0-megapixel camera and a quad core processor, all in a slim frame that has glass on the front as well as on the back and is resistant to the wiles of both dust and water. And while it is not exactly as barnstorming a device in hardware terms as some of its quad core powered Android cousins, it strikes a healthy middle path between the stylish looks of the HTC One and the heavy muscle of the Samsung S4 — it is easy on the eye without being overwhelming and can hold its own in hardware terms. And well, it remains one of the best multimedia phones out there, with the display being a treat to watch films and videos. The interface remains a tad on the plain side, but then not too many might complain about that, given the UI overdose from other Android smartphones.

What rocks: The dust-and-waterproof build, the hardware
What sucks: Relatively plain UI, battery drain
Perfect for: Those looking for a handset with a large display and very good multimedia, especially if they are prone to encountering rough weather! Price: Rs 37,990

LG Optimus G
High-end, low price smarty

Some might say that the Optimus G is not LG’s flagship in the real sense, and that particular appellation would fit the forthcoming Optimus G Pro much better. There is no doubt, however, that at the time of writing, the Optimus G was pretty much the most powerful smartphone from LG in the Indian market. Actually, make that one of the most powerful around — and also one of the most affordable among the “big” brands. For, the Optimus G comes with some very serious hardware muscle — a quad core processor, a 13.0-megapixel camera and a very bright 4.7-inch display — and is actually the only phone in this list that is available for less than Rs 35,000. Yes, the design could have been better, in spite of a jazzily patterned back cover and the camera does not really perform when the lights fade, but the device is a very solid performer, and in price-sensitive market, a very good proposition for those wanting quad-core goodness allied with the assurance of a big brand.

What rocks: The processor, the display, and the price
What sucks: The design, the camera
Perfect for: The user who is looking for a taste of the Android high life without investing the kind of money that could get them a notebook
Price: Rs 32,990

Samsung Galaxy S4
No beauty, all beast!

No, we are not going to go the "bash-it-because-it-is-plastic" route (what on earth is wrong with plastic anyway) and are instead going to focus on what is some very serious hardware muscle, the likes of which has seldom been seen on a smartphone. From the Octa core processor to the full HD 5.0-inch AMOLED display, the S4 is one muscular beast. Yes, the design is very similar to that of the SIII, but on board are a number of tweaks, software and hardware that pretty much make this the most powerful smartphone around. Turn a page by moving your head? Select text by hovering above it? Edit films on the move in a snap? The S4 does it all with utter elan. Made of plastic? Yep, but like the small wonder, it is fantastic as well, even if it is not exactly small.

What rocks: The amazing hardware, the processor and display
What sucks: The design, which lacks class
Perfect for: All those wanting a phone that can handle pretty much everything thrown at it in terms of tasks. And one of the best Android experiences in one's hands.
Price: Rs 41, 500

Nokia Lumia 920
The low light warrior

It was supposed to be the flagship for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system, but has ended up being known as the phone that can take photographs even in near pitch-black conditions, and that too minus a flash. Mind you, we still think that the biggest asset of the Lumia 920 is not the camera but the sheer plethora of software that comes on it. From an office suite to a very good browser to free maps (that work even when you are offline and have turn by turn instructions in Hindi) to free unlimited music downloads for a year, this is a device that comes literally stacked with very good software and hardware. And of course, it runs Windows Phone 8 with its smooth, tiled interface. The 4.5-inch display is awesome for viewing Web pages and videos. Throw in the low light photography of that 8.7-megapixel camera and a battery that can take a day of hefty use and you have a device that is a very formidable proposition. No, it is not going to turn heads with its design, but you will seldom find it lagging in terms of performance.

What rocks: The display, the camera, the pre-loaded apps
What sucks: The design (looks like the Lumia 900 redone), the paucity of good apps
Perfect for: Those looking for a smartphone that works smoothly and pretty much comes loaded with everything and has a superb camera to boot.
Price: Rs 36,000 

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